Self-discipline, compassion, and healthy view of life and their bodies. These are values I want to instill in my children. I can’t think of a better way to do that then by learning about something bigger than ourselves. In this case, a horse and Twin Cities horsemanship opportunities.
The Twin Cities offers many opportunities for kids to go on a horseback ride and to get acquainted and comfortable with horses. There are a number of stables around the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul metro and Western Wisconsin. While you won’t find them in Minneapolis or St. Paul themselves, they aren’t far from there and they are in the East, West, North, and South. This excites my daughter as she is horse crazy right now and this excites me because I am always looking for a good opportunity to introduce my children to the sights, sounds, and smells of the country.
There is something nostalgic about Small Town America, and I have always dreamed that dream for my kids. I have since come to terms that they are not going to grow up like I did, but I can still make agriculture a part of their lives. They can know what corn looks like and what soybeans are. They may not grow up surrounded by it, but they can appreciate it. They can experience animals–especially farm animals–at more than just the State Fair, too. Even in the middle of the Twin Cities, there are opportunities to familiarize yourself with the country.
There are many benefits to Equestrianism in the lives of children – both for their physical and emotional health.
- Lifetime of Year Round Health and Fitness. Riding a horse works your core, your quads, and your cardiovascular system. You develop balance, strength, and muscle control.
- Respect and Responsibility. Children (and adults) learn to care for a large animal and to respect them without being afraid of them.
- Perspective. Teenagers tend to get distracted by their friends and romantic endeavors. A commitment to a horse is going to teach more about loyalty, integrity, honesty, follow through, empathy, compassion, and trust than any girlfriend or boyfriend would. And it could potentially keep them above the social drama that can be so detrimental to them.
- Discipline and Focus. Horsemanship develops self discipline and systematic thinking, progressive training and helps with academics
- Courage and Self-Esteem. When you are confident on the back of a horse and can be under control, nothing can stop you. Your child will know that he can do anything he puts his mind to.
Twin Cities Horsemanship Opportunities
In 2013, I started researching the stables in the area. There are a lot of possibilities. Of the Stables I visited, there are pros and cons to each. The number one priority for every single stable was Safety. Wearing helmets is required for all students no matter where you choose to learn. But let me give you a quick overview of each stable and my gut reaction.
I know that I didn’t get to all the Twin Cities Stables. I didn’t make it to the West Metro because I couldn’t get in touch with any of the stables. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but we just couldn’t connect. Also, I didn’t hear back from the stables in Stillwater. I made an attempt to check out Seventh Farm in Hudson, but there, too, no one was around when I stopped by at our appointed time.
While it may sound like I am making excuses, I am simply trying to explain the lack of a complete picture of the stables around the area. There are so many stables to choose from that if one doesn’t seem a good fit, in all likelihood, there is another to try. You need to be comfortable with the facility and the horses. You need to feel known and cared for. You need to be given the tools to be successful.
East Metro Twin Cities Stables
Mark Ward was a powerhouse. Being that this was my first step into the horsemanship journey, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. I was impressed by Mark’s hands-on approach and the different ways to be active in the equestrian world. A unique feature was that during group activities, the rider could ride bareback, in a western saddle, or in a huntseat saddle (English). It didn’t really matter as long as the rider was comfortable. Windy Ranch has a heated, indoor arena for year-round practice.
North Metro Twin Cities Stables
5676 170th Street North, Hugo, MN 55038
This was definitely the biggest operation that I visited. Over a hundred horses were either boarded, shown, or used for lessons. They teach all styles of Western and English riding including western pleasure, dressage, huntseat, jumping, eventing, games and trail riding sessions. Their facilities are huge and they host large events very often. They also offer lessons at every skill level. Even the littlest ones in the family from ages 3-6 can start their first lesson. Woodloch is very proud of their pony program as they should be!
6150 202nd St N, Forest Lake, MN 55025
Definitely the most picturesque of all the stables that I visited. The Warmbloods and Quarterhorses and Thoroughbreds who live at Shadow Creek know they are safe, respected, and well cared for. The horses are definitely the focus at Shadow Creek and everyone is a part of the family at Shadow Creek.
2306 80th St E Hugo, MN 55038
After visiting, I went home and told my husband that I think I found the place for our daughter to take lessons. First of all, I was in love with their horses. Second, I felt so at home with Colleen Wick. Third, I felt it was a great fit for our family. This is exactly what I want to happen for you. I want to offer many different options to try. And when you find your fit, you will know.
Bunker Hills Park Regional Park, 550 Bunker Lake Boulevard NW, Andover, MN 55304
Located in one of our favorite local parks, If you want to ride a horse and are over the age of 8, Bunker Park Stable is the place to go. While they have a lesson program, this is the place to go in the Twin Cities for a trail ride. Reservations are required for a ride through the park or for a pony-led ride for you little one. Enjoy a unique party experience or educate yourselves about the pioneers. Bunker Park Stable has a lot to offer you and your family.
Northwest Metro Twin Cities Stables
13351 South Diamond Lake Rd., Dayton, MN 55327
I would love to send you to Cheryl at Davenport Stables. She understands the preciousness of your child. She has this strong and gentle nature about her. She loves her students and she loves her horses. The focus at Davenport Stables is lessons and boarding. This stable is not going to take you to major horse shows or events. You will learn to read a horse and to partner with a horse or you can board your own horses. I am positive that Cheryl can work with everyone.
South Metro Twin Cities Stables
19650 Judicial Road, Lakeville, MN 55044
Saddlebred stables are proud of their horses. As they should be. They are magnificent creatures. Bob Jensen Stables is no different. They have over 20 lesson horses to use and a very high level of professionalism. And they are very active in the horse show world. Their horses will seriously weasel their way into your hearts, and you will gladly let them.
8315 190th St W, Lakeville, MN 55044
This was another stable that I felt right at home hanging out. Ann is so friendly and welcoming, and her instructors are personable and awesome. The stalls are full of Arabians, their students are eager to learn, and the horses participate in all the fun activities at the stables including movies, Halloween dress-up, and the open house.
Hippotherapy & Adaptive Programs
6659 Jasmine Court North, Stillwater, MN 55082
This Adaptive Horseback Riding facility provides horse-assisted learning, riding, trainers, and competitive sports for kids ages 8 and older with special needs. They offer a safe learning environment through the adaptive equine experience.
4301 County Rd 24, Maple Plain, MN 55359
We Can Ride is a nonprofit organization that offers sensory-friendly hours for individual on this autism spectrum or with other sensory needs. They also offer therapeutic horseback riding experience and therapies for individuals with physical disabilities.
“A horse’s gait, similar to the human walk, helps strengthen spine and pelvic muscles, improves posture and coordination, and increases joint mobility.”
Horsemanship is an amazing life skill. You are giving you and your child something bigger than both of you to experience, teaching your child responsibility and awareness and even compassion, and enjoying nature (in one way or another). Lessons may seem a little pricey, but in reality, its very comparable to other sports and lessons.
You won’t regret giving your child an opportunity to learn horsemanship. Now, it’s just about finding the right fit!
This article was originally published by Gianna Kordatzky on November 5, 2013.
Reader and Community Recommendations
While Gianna was not able to visit every stable during her 2013 research, we have had suggestions from readers and other community members over the years. Try these Horseback Riding opportunities:
16032 180th St E, Hastings, MN 55033
32443 64th Ave Way, Cannon Falls, MN 55009
Phone: (651) 338-2792
Majestic Hills Ranch
24580 Dakota Ave, Lakeville, MN 55044
Phone: (952) 426-5688
River Valley Ranch
16480 Jonathan Carver Pkwy, Carver, MN 55315
Phone: (952) 361-3361
River Valley Riders
Tamarack Village, 8362 Tamarack Village, Woodbury, MN 55125
Phone: (651) 439-2558